In 2013, an architectural design competition was held by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) for the establishment of two newSouth African universities – Sol Plaatje University (SPU) in Kimberley, and the University of Mpumalanga (UMP)in Mbombela. As one of the four architectural firms selected for the first phase of development of UMP, GAPP Architects & Urban Designers were tasked with the design of a new student residence building including student union facilities, a Health and Wellness centre and a Multipurpose Hall. The steeply sloped topographyguided the placement and massing of the built form. Perched along a rocky outcrop, the building provides sweeping panoramic views over the city and surrounding hillside. Central to GAPP’s design was the creation of an integrated mixed-use precinct woven into the existing building fabric of the site, tied together by a public promenade that connects the campus residences and recreational facilities to the new library and administration building. This presented an opportunity for the student residences, common rooms and student union facilities to activate the edge of the promenade. As part of the promenade route, the design includes a timber deck that winds its way through the trees.
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